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Jan 30, 2009

IATA: 2009 to be one of toughest years for international aviation

Figures released by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) show that international passenger traffic in December 2008 dropped by 4.6 percent compared to the same month in 2007.

Asia-Pacific carriers saw the sharpest decline in December international traffic at 9.7 percent. They also registered the sharpest reduction in capacity, but at 5.6 percentr, IATA said this is lagging behind the drop in demand. Load factors sank to 72.6 percent.

Carriers in the Middle East showed an almost four-percent increase in demand in December, far below the 10-percent capacity increase.

“2009 is shaping up to be one of the toughest years ever for international aviation,” said IATA director general and CEO, Giovanni Bisignani.

Airlines registered a US$5-billion loss in 2008. For 2009, IATA is forecasting a further loss of US$2.5 billion based on a fuel price of US$60 per barrel, a decline of three percent in passenger volumes, a drop of five percent in cargo traffic and yield deterioration of three percent. In the face of this economic crisis, IATA is calling for major structural changes to the industry.

Source : TravelWeekly
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Malaysia Govt allows firms, factories to reduce working days

The Government will allow companies and factories to shorten their operations to three days a week, provided workers were agreeable to the move, Labour Director-General Datuk Ismail Abdul Rahim said Thursday.

He said the Government's main concern was to ensure minimal job loss and that companies continue to operate, albeit on a low gear.

He said it was necessary for employers to get the consent of the workers because if working days were reduced, workers would get less pay.

"It is the duty of the department to ensure that workers were adequately protected and at the same time, companies did not lose out," Ismail said.

Ismail felt that it would be ideal if employers, workers and their unions could work together for their mutual good and the good of the nation.

Meanwhile, the Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) was of the view that it was better for the workers to take a temporary pay cut than to lose their job.

"As employers, we do not want to lose our employees and would do our best to retain as many as possible," assured MEF Executive Director Shamsuddin Bardan.

"However, economic conditions are such that we sometimes have no choice but to cut back on employment to keep afloat," he said.

Since Jan 1, about 10,000 workers have lost their jobs in the country and more are expected to face the axe if the economic situation did not change for the better, said Shamsuddin.

He added that although the United States and Europe were the most affected by the global economic crisis, Malaysia would not be spared either, as it was a major trading nation and depended a lot on exports to these markets.

Last week, Human Resources Minister Datuk Dr S. Subramaniam announced that almost 45,000 workers, mostly in the electronic sector, would be laid off.

Another 7,000 workers have been retrenched and they would be assisted by the Government.

The Government had proposed that these retrenched workers be paid RM500 monthly while waiting for a new job. They might also get an offer to be retrained and acquire new skills or improve on their existing skills.

However, according to Ismail, the mechanics of the payment and training was still being worked out.

Meanwhile, the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) has pledged full cooperation with the Government and employers to ride over these difficult times. Secretary-General G. Rajasegaran said all affiliates had been informed to extend cooperation and maintain industrial harmony in their respective workplaces.

Meanwhile, Deputy Human Resources Minister Datuk Noraini Ahmad advised workers who were aware their companies were folding up or facing imminent retrenchment to contact the Ministry for assistance.

She said, if the Ministry was informed that some companies were about to fold up, its Labour Department would look for jobs in other companies by placing the names of the soon-to-be-affected workers in its Workers Mini Carnival programme.

"We will also re-train workers who have been retrenched and give them RM500 each in the duration of their training while waiting for new jobs," she told reporters after handing over a RM1,500 cheque for funeral arrangements to Siti Mariam Rosidi at her house in Kuchai Entrepreneur Park, here.

Siti Mariam's husband, Bank Negara employee Noor Azhar Hassan, 30, died in a road accident on Jan 22.

Source : DailyExpress
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Shell reports loss but announces no job cuts

Royal Dutch Shell aims to ride out the recession this year with a higher dividend, flat spending and no plans as yet for layoffs.

But analysts expressed concern that the Netherlands-based company could set back production growth efforts by delaying final approvals on multibillion-dollar projects amid the global recession and sagging oil and gas prices.

Other oil majors also are moving ahead with projects already approved while delaying final decisions on some others until costs of doing business mirror the fall in oil and gas prices. Shell Chief Executive Jeroen Van der Veer said such delays by Shell include decisions to put off expanding Canadian oil sands operations and some deep- water exploration.

Credit Suisse analyst James Neale, in a note to investors, voiced concern that “the company’s return to growth will be short-lived in view of efforts by the company to slow final investment decisions on future growth projects due to current economic weakness, and in order to await lower future service costs.”

Shell has a string of pro-jects set to start producing in the next three years that will reap rewards as oil prices rise alongside an economic recovery.

Neale predicted that when Shell updates analysts on its plans in March, the strategy will be to “focus on the inevitability of a future rise in oil prices and to stress that its balance sheet is strong enough to endure an extended period of price weakness.”

Van der Veer alluded to that strategy Thursday as the company revealed lower quarterly and annual profits amid the downturn.

“A conservative balance sheet is key and I feel good about that. Sometimes these are tough choices,” he said.

Shell’s annual profit last year fell 16 percent short of 2007, showing that not even nine months of triple-digit oil prices could overcome crude’s plunge in the fourth quarter as the global recession took hold.

Summing up 2008

Shell, with U.S. operations based in Houston, earned $26.3 billion in profit in 2008, down from $31.1 billion in the prior year. And in the quarter, during which oil prices fell from more than $100 a barrel to the $40 range, Shell lost $2.8 billion, a sharp turnaround from an $8.5 billion profit in the last three months of 2007.

Excluding the effect of write-downs on inventory prompted by the fall in oil prices, Shell’s annual profit rose 14 percent to $31.5 billion from $27.5 billion, while quarterly income still fell 28 percent to $4.9 billion from $6.7 billion.

No plans yet for layoffs

While Van der Veer didn’t explicitly say Shell wouldn’t cut jobs this year, he announced no plans for layoffs when pressed by analysts. Shell has 104,000 employees worldwide, 12,000 of whom are in Houston.

He also said Shell plans to spend up to $32 billion on capital projects this year, the same as in 2008. Most of that has been committed to pro-jects that received the final go-ahead before oil and gas prices plummeted, including oil and liquefied natural gas production at Russia’s Sakhalin Island and its Perdido oil and gas platform in the Gulf of Mexico.

Chevron’s plans

Chevron also announced Thursday that its 2009 capital budget of $22.8 billion will mirror 2008’s. And like Shell, much of it is committed to ongoing projects, such as its new Tahiti oil and gas platform in the Gulf and pro-jects in offshore Angola and Brazil.

Chevron and Exxon Mobil Corp. are slated to unveil fourth-quarter and year-end 2008 results today, followed by BP and Marathon Oil on Tuesday.

So far, ConocoPhillips is the only oil major to announce job cuts — 4 percent, or about 1,350 of its 30,800 jobs worldwide.

Van der Veer said Shell will focus this year on increasing dividends rather than buying back its own stock. The company hiked its dividend 11 percent in the fourth quarter, and announced another 5 percent increase Thursday as a “signal of profitability in the future,” he said.

Van der Veer said buying back stock — popular to the tune of billions of dollars by all the oil majors as oil prices rose — is “really an upcycle activity.”

Production down

Shell’s production in the quarter was 3.4 million barrels of oil equivalent per day, down slightly from the year-ago period.

For the year, production fell to 3.25 million barrels per day from 3.3 million because of effects of production-sharing contracts with other countries and quota restrictions by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.

In a production-sharing contract, companies are paid with barrels of oil, and when oil prices rise, fewer barrels change hands. Excluding those effects, production was flat year to year, the company said.

Source : Chron
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Job losses in US send markets tumbling

News of more job losses and further depressing US economic news combined to send stock markets tumbling on both side of the Atlantic yesterday.

Investors took fright, with the Dow Jones index tumbling 226 points – 2.7pc – to 8149.01 at close. In London, the FTSE100 closed down 105.09 points – 2.45pc – at 4190.11.

Photography group Eastman Kodak is to make up to 4,500 staff redundant, just a year after halving its workforce.

Car manufacturer Ford is also axing 1,200 workers in its credit division, as it reported its biggest-ever loss.

The redundancies bring the total number of jobs lost in the US in the last four days to over 100,000 and the total for January is now likely to be the biggest in this recession.

Employment data released yesterday showed that those claiming unemployment benefit for the first time rose to 588,000 in the week to January 24, up from 585,000 in the preceding week.

Those claiming benefits for more than a week rose 159,000 to 4.776m – the highest on record.

Ford is making its job cuts having just closed the books on its worst year – in financial terms – in its 105-year history.

The company reported a 2008 loss of $14.6bn (£10.22bn) – equivalent to a loss of $2,700 for every vehicle sold during the year.

Chief executive Alan Mulally again stressed that Ford will not need a bridging loan from the US government unless it is impacted by extraordinary circumstances, such as the collapse of a competitor.

Ford – which did not receive any state aid in December's $17.4bn bail-out of its two main rivals, General Motors and Chrysler – ended the year with $24bn in cash but $25.8bn of debt. The manufacturer said it intends to utilise some of $10.1bn of credit lines available to it as it continues to restructure its business.

Eastman Kodak's sales tumbled by 24pc in the fourth-quarter, leading to a net loss of $137m.

Chief executive Antonio Perez said the second-half was "one of the most challenging periods we have seen in decades".

Sales of traditional camera equipment fell by 27pc, and digital equipment by 23pc.

Source : Telegraph
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Chartered Semicon to cut 500 jobs in Singapore

Chipmaker Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing, which is forecasting its biggest loss ever of US$147mil (RM529mil) this quarter, will retrench over 500 workers here to cut costs.

The job cuts will be across all levels, “from manufacturing to managerial to executive,” said its chief executive officer Chia Song Hwee on Friday.

The mainboard-listed company, which makes chips for companies like Qualcomm and Broadcom, has six manufacturing plants here.

Laid-off Singaporean employees who have been with the company for three years or more will receive one month’s pay for every year of service; those with shorter terms would get half-a-month’s pay for each year of service.

The company will also be giving out an ex-gratia payment to these employees, and has engaged consultants to help them with outplacement, said Chia, stressing that it had this step as a last resort.

He pointed out that utilisation had fallen to 59% for the quarter ended Dec 31 due to the financial crisis and expects this to fall further to 37%.

“Unfortunately business conditions continue to deteriorate, and with utilisation below 40%, despite the (government’s recently announced) jobs credit scheme, resizing is unavoidable,” he said.

Under the scheme, the Singapore government would subsidise part of a worker’s wage.

The retrenchment benefits will cost Chartered US$8mil, but will help it save US$16mil over the year.

The latest retrenchment exercise brings the total job cuts to 1,300, or 18% of its previous workforce. In December, Chartered retrenched about 270 contract staff; it had also “exited poor performers” and frozen hiring, not replacing those who quit voluntarily, said Chia.

Chartered, the world’s third-largest maker of customised chips, announced the dismal outlook and job cuts on Friday morning before the market opened, together with its financial results for its fourth quarter and financial year.

It posted a net loss of US$92.6mil for its financial year ended Dec 31, on the back of revenues of US$1.66bil. It booked a US$101.7mil profit in 2007.

The financial turmoil had resulted in an “unprecedented rate of decline in semiconductor demand worldwide,” said chief financial officer George Thomas in a statement.

For now, the company is “very much focused on near term priorities to make sure we weather the downturn,” said Chia.

It is also working on other cost-cutting measures including reducing its capital expenditure by 35% to US$375mil this year, its lowest level since 2003, to “conserve liquidity.”

Even though cost is a concern, the company has decided to maintain its research and developing spending.

Chartered, said Chia, has to make sure “our position is not weakened ... if customers lose confidence (in Chartered), opportunities will not come” back when the economy recovers.

He did not rule out the possibility of further job cuts if the situation worsens. --

Source : TheStar
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Cessna: Layoff total to climb to 4,600 following 4Q report

Cessna Aircraft Co. is planning to cut an additional 2,000 jobs in the coming months, according to a letter sent out to employees by Chairman and CEO Jack Pelton on Thursday.

Combined with the previously announced reductions of 2,600 employees, Cessna will now be laying off at least 4,600 in 2009.

Of the cuts, 4,000 will come from Wichita, including the 500 layoffs announced in November and the 2,000 earlier this month, says Cessna Spokesman Doug Oliver. The company will also be letting go 200 people from its facility in Independence, Kan.

It is not knowned how many workers in Cessna's plant in Bend will be effected. In November, 165 were told they would be laid off at the end of this month. The Bend plant, which Cessna bought from Columbia Aircraft Manufacturing Corp. in 2007, will then have 300 workers.

The newest round of layoffs come amid Textron Inc. (NYSE: TXT), parent company of Cessna, releasing its fourth-quarter and full-year financial report.

“These numbers are profound, especially when you look beyond the numbers to the Cessna families that are affected. It’s extremely painful for all of us to lose so many of our colleagues and friends,” Pelton writes. “Making this decision is difficult for your leadership team and me personally. These actions are necessary to secure our future.”

Cessna’s fourth-quarter revenue decreased $64 million from 2007 and segment profit was down $90 million.

In its report, Textron attributed the decrease to used aircraft valuation adjustments, lower revenue mix and increased product development and overhead costs.

The report also says Cessna’s backlog at the end of the fourth quarter was $14.5 billion, up $1.9 billion from the end of 2007.

Overall, Textron reported a fourth-quarter loss from continuing operations of $348 million, $1.44 per share, compared to $247 million, 97 cents per share, from last year. The company had a net loss of $209 million, or 87 cents per share, compared to its fourth-quarter income from 2007.

Revenues for the quarter were $3.6 billion, up 0.04 percent from the previous year.

Backlog for Textron in the quarter was reported at $23.2 billion, up $4.4 billion from the end of last year.

The company projects more reductions will be needed to offset continued losses in 2009.

“Our priorities this year are clear — maximize cash flow and operating performance in our manufacturing businesses and (to) aggressively convert finance receivables at TFC to cash,” Textron Chairman and CEO Lewis B. Campbell said in a written statement. “We’re aligning production to match expected lower commercial demand, reducing nonessential capital spending, freezing salaries, curtailing most discretionary spending, including reductions in non-critical product development, and reducing working capital.”

Source : BizJournals
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Disney plans 5 percent job cuts at ABC division

* Lays off about 200 people at ABC
* Freezes another 200 jobs
* Reductions equivalent to 5 percent of ABC workforce

Walt Disney Co (DIS.N) plans to lay off 200 people at its ABC division, a Disney executive familiar with the situation said, underscoring the media industry's struggle with sliding ad sales.

The media giant intends to also freeze 200 vacant jobs, resulting in an overall, 5 percent reduction of Disney-ABC TV Group's workforce of about 6,500 to 7,000, said the Disney source, who declined to be identified because the cuts had not been made public.

Disney said last week it planned to combine its two ABC divisions -- ABC Entertainment and ABC Studios -- into one umbrella organization, hoping to streamline the twin business units. [ID:nN22549756]

"After months of making hard decisions across our businesses to help us adjust to a weakening economy, we're now faced with the harsh reality of having to eliminate jobs in some areas," Anne Sweeney, co-chair of Disney-Media Networks and president of Disney-ABC Television, said in a memo sent to workers and obtained by Reuters.

"This was not an easy decision, nor one made lightly. The people affected today are our friends and colleagues, and we are doing all we can for them and their families during what we know will be a difficult transition."

ESPN, the sports cable network run by Disney, also plans to cut 200 jobs from its workforce of about 5,700 worldwide, an ESPN executive told Reuters. Those cuts were announced Wednesday by ESPN and ABC Sports President George Bodenheimer in a taped address on the firm's internal Web site.

Disney, as of September, employed about 150,000 people.

Disney, which like other media firms is trying to offset declining growth in advertising revenue, has also sent voluntary buyout offers to 600 executives at its domestic theme parks, to cut costs.

Estimates made late last year called for U.S. advertising spending to drop between 5 percent and 10 percent in 2009.

Disney is the latest, but probably not the last, to announce lay offs, and may have more cuts in store as it seeks to deliver the cost reductions Chief Executive Robert Iger promised.

Time Warner Inc's (TWX.N) Warner Bros Entertainment last week announced 800 job cuts; General Electric Co's (GE.N) NBC Universal, CBS Corp (CBS.N) and Viacom Inc (VIAb.N) made job cuts last year.

News Corp NWSa.O has not announced any job cuts at its studios.

Shares of Disney closed down 4.6 percent, at $21.25, on Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange.

Source : Reuters
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London Underground to cut 1,000 jobs

London Underground plans to axe 1,000 jobs but the cuts will not affect passenger services, Transport for London said on Thursday.

The staff reduction is aimed at making the "Tube" network more efficient and is not linked to the recession, the body that runs the capital's transport system said.

The employer began talks with unions about the planned cuts on Thursday. It did not say over what time period the job losses would take place.

"Frontline operations including train, station and maintenance staff are not part of the review and will be unaffected by any changes," Transport for London said in a statement.

London Underground employs around 20,000 people.

A Transport for London spokesman said the job cuts would mainly affect backroom roles such as finance, procurement, human resources and administration.

He said the organisation hoped to avoid compulsory redundancies. It would look to achieve the figure by reducing temporary positions, by not filling vacancies and through some voluntary redundancies.

Transport workers' union RMT said it would ballot its members on industrial action if London Underground made any compulsory redundancies.

Source : Reuters
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Jan 29, 2009

AOL to lay off 700 employees

AOL will lay off 10 percent of its workers, about 700 people, to help it better deal with the deepening economic recession, according to a companywide e-mail sent on Wednesday.

The reductions, which will be completed by the end of March, will be accompanied by a consolidation of business groups and facilities as the company focuses on its three core businesses: Platform-A advertising, People Networks social networking, and MediaGlow content, AOL Chief Executive Randy Falco wrote in the e-mail, obtained by CNET News. Employees will also not be getting merit raises this year, he said.

"Reducing our workforce is never easy, particularly in the current climate, but our goal in doing this is to provide our core businesses the resources they need to thrive," Falco wrote. "Please know that, as always, we'll be doing everything we can to help and support those affected, including offering severance packages and other services."

Kara Swisher first reported the layoffs and reprinted the memo on her Boomtown blog.

An AOL spokesman said the company had no comment.

A decline in ad revenue at AOL helped lead to flat revenue and earnings at parent company Time Warner in its last quarterly financial report. Time Warner reportedly was in talks last year with Yahoo on a sale of AOL.

Source : Digital Media
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Starbucks Corp to Lay Off 6,700 Jobs

Starbucks Corp. continues to take the ax to its business. New plans include closing 300 stores and cutting up to 6,700 jobs in fiscal year 2009.

Starbucks, hit hard as consumers forego pricey coffees, increased its cost-savings target to $500 million from $400 million for the fiscal year. Starbucks saw its same-store sales fell 9 percent for the quarter.

Source : Chicago Tribune
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Boeing to lay off 10,000 this year

Company to cut 5,500 more; loses order for 15 787s

The sky has not fallen for aerospace giant Boeing, but it has gotten darker.

The Boeing Co. is facing "one of the most difficult commercial and financial environments that most of us have ever seen," Chairman and Chief Executive Jim McNerney said in a conference call Wednesday as Boeing reported a huge fourth-quarter loss because of the Machinists strike last year and a significant charge related to the delayed 747-8 program.

Among the sobering details:

  • McNerney said Boeing will cut about 10,000 jobs, or about 6 percent of its work force, this year because of the global recession and industry downturn. That's up from the 4,500 commercial job losses in the Puget Sound area in 2009 that Boeing announced earlier in the year. The additional 5,500 job cuts, to come mostly through layoffs and attrition, will be across the company, including Washington state, where nearly half of Boeing's 162,000 employees worked at the end of last year.

  • Boeing has lost its first significant 787 order. A Russian airline group canceled an order for 15 Dreamliners. Boeing said it was because of the uncertain global economic climate and not because of delays on the 787 program that now stretch about two years.

  • Airlines and leasing companies are likely to cancel more orders of all Boeing models this year, and defer delivery of an unknown number of jets.

  • Design changes and other issues forced Boeing to take an unexpected fourth-quarter charge of $685 million related to the 747-8 that is now in development and is about a year late.

  • The company had a net loss of $56 million in the fourth quarter, or 8 cents a share, compared with net income of $1.03 billion, or $1.36 a share, a year earlier. Much of the loss was because of the nearly two-month-long Machinists strike, which reduced earnings by an estimated $1.2 billion. Boeing said it delivered 105 fewer planes because of the strike. It was Boeing's first loss since the second quarter of 2006, when it lost $160 million, or 21 cents a share.

  • Boeing lowered its earnings outlook for 2009 and would not make a forecast for 2010 because the economy remains so uncertain.

    Despite the gloomy picture reflected by the financial results and new job cuts, there were bright spots.

    The still-grounded 787, after an embarrassing two-year delay, is on track to fly in the second quarter.

    Also, Boeing met enough of its 2008 financial targets to trigger an employee incentive plan, which will pay out six extra days. In Washington state, about 48,120 eligible employees will receive an estimated payout of $96.5 million. Companywide, 110,000 eligible recipients will receive an estimated $220 million.

    The extra pay should show up in employee checks next month.

    The Machinists union, which represents about 27,000 Boeing employees in the Puget Sound area, is not included in the plan.

    Boeing did much better in exceeding its 2007 financial goals and the plan paid an additional 15 days' pay in February 2008.

    "Fundamentally, this is a solid company with a strong growing core business," McNerney said.

    Boeing plans to deliver 480 to 485 planes this year, less than its July estimate of 500 to 505. Because of the strike, and 787 delays, Boeing delivered only 375 planes in 2008, well below its estimate of 475.

    Significantly, Boeing should be able to maintain current production rates even if a lot of orders are deferred or even canceled in 2009. That's because Boeing overbooked production slots. Keeping assembly lines at current rates means Boeing is less likely to need production-related job cuts.

    In 2008, customers canceled six orders and deferred the delivery of 110 jets. McNerney would not speculate on how many orders might be deferred or canceled in 2009, only that the number is likely to be more than last year. U.S. carriers American and Southwest recently said they won't take as many Boeing jets in 2009 as planned. Last week, UBS Investment Research said in a report that it expected nearly a third of the world's airlines to defer deliveries in 2009.

    McNerney acknowledged things could change for the worse because of "continued market uncertainty."

    Boeing has a record commercial backlog of $279 billion, which grew by 9 percent last year. That represents about eight times the annual revenue of Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

    Because of a global credit crunch airlines and leasing companies will find it more difficult to get financing to pay for planes already on order. Most of the money for a new jet is paid at the time of delivery. Boeing said it expected to make about $1 billion in jet financing available this year through Boeing Capital Corp. Earlier this week, the French government said it would provide about $6.5 billion to banks to support rival Airbus jet purchases this year.

    Boeing orders are expected to fall this year to below what it builds, so that backlog will start to decline.

    If there was a surprise in the earnings call, it was the number of job cuts.

    Boeing had said late last year that it would cut about 1,000 defense jobs at its facility in Wichita, Kan. And earlier this month it announced the 4,500 job cuts in its commercial airplanes business, or about 6.6 percent of Boeing's total commercial work force of 67,659 at the end of December.

    The additional 5,500 jobs will be eliminated in Boeing's military and space business and in support services.

    Most of the cuts will come in the first half of the year, McNerney said, and will be spread geographically throughout the company.

    Boeing had 76,417 employees in Washington at the end of last year. Boeing has a number of defense-related programs in the area and some of the job reductions will likely come there. McNerney did not say how many more jobs besides the 4,500 in commercial would be cut in Washington.

    The Machinists union urged Boeing to cut contract employees before its full-time workers.

    "If Boeing's intention is to deliver 480 to 485 planes in 2009 as they indicated today, they can only accomplish this with the full contingent of our membership," Tom Wroblewski, president of District 751 of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, said in a statement after the latest job cuts were announced.

    "To date, Boeing has only told us the impact will be 'minimal,' but they will provide details on how our membership will be affected on Feb. 6th."

    McNerney gave no indication Boeing may make more jobs cuts this year than what it has so far announced. But he did make it clear that these are uncertain times.

    "The global economy continues to weaken and is adversely affecting air traffic growth and financing," McNerney said. "We are also expecting pressure on defense budgets in light of the economic recovery and financial rescue packages put forth by various governments."

  • Source : Seattlepi
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    Oil company OMV Petrom to lay off 3,000 workers

    OMV Petrom, Romania's largest oil company, will lay off about 10 percent of its employees, officials said Wednesday.

    Regional labor official Dragos Parvan said that 3,000 Romanian workers from Petrom will lose their jobs beginning Feb. 1.

    Petrom spokesman Dan Pazara said the layoffs are "nothing new" and part of a long- term process to modernize the company and make it more efficient.

    Petrom said it will give severance pay to workers losing their jobs and pay for their retraining courses.

    A majority share of Petrom was sold by Romania to Austrian group OMV AG in 2004 for euro1.5 billion ($1.97 billion). The company employs about 30,000 people.

    Finance Minister Gheorghe Pogea said that unemployment in Romania will increase from 4.4 percent to about 5.4 percent in 2009.

    Thousands of workers in heavy industry and the automobile industry have been laid off in recent months due to a drop in sales. The national currency, the leu, has lost about 20 percent of its value in the last year.

    Source : AP
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    GKN Cuts More Jobs

    Engineering group GKN has said it has cut 2,800 jobs globally since October and may have to shed more because of the slump in the global car industry.

    The UK firm, which supplies carmakers including Land Rover and Ford, said it had cut 242 UK positions so far.

    GKN said all its car part plants were now continuing to work shorter weeks due to the falling demand.

    Car firms are meeting Lord Mandelson later for talks on the government's £2.3bn loan guarantee package.

    'Headcount reduction'

    GKN said that its automotive business made a loss in both November and December, and that conditions in the global car industry had continued to decline since then.

    As a result, it said it was moving ahead with further "selected headcount reduction programmes".

    The Redditch-based firm has four UK factories manufacturing car parts in the West Midlands and Telford, that currently employ 2,000 permanent staff out of a UK total of 6,300.

    GKN said 2009's additional job cuts and wider restructuring would cost it an estimated £120m.

    "This is another body blow for an already beleaguered engineering industry," said GMB official Joe Morgan.

    "We need to discuss the implications of this on a plant-by-plant basis, and see if there is any scope for government assistance."

    GKN's announcement comes after almost all of the big car firms have announced cuts in production as a result of a substantial fall in demand.

    Jaguar Land Rover, to which GKN supplies the main chassis for both the Land Rover Defender and Range Rover Sport models, said earlier this month that it had seen a "severe reduction in demand".

    The carmaker is also cutting its workforce by 450.

    Jaguar Land Rover chief executive David Smith said he did not expect sales to return to normal levels "for some time".

    Government support

    The UK government has now moved to try to assist the country's car sector.

    Business Secretary Lord Mandelson on Tuesday outlined a package of government support for the UK car industry potentially worth up to £2.3bn.

    The package includes a scheme to unlock £1.3bn of loans from Europe for car manufacturers and major suppliers.

    He said the government would also guarantee up to £1bn of further loans.

    Lord Mandelson is now due to meet car industry leaders to discuss the finer details.

    However, the Conservatives said the European loans had already been announced last year.

    In addition to making car parts, GKN supplies components to the aerospace industry.

    In September last year GKN bought Airbus' Filton plant in Bristol - which makes wing parts for Airbus planes - for £136m.

    Its total global workforce totals 42,000.

    Source : BBC
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    Citrix, Jabil Cut 3,500 Jobs Combined as Technology Sales Wane

    Citrix Systems Inc. and Jabil Circuit Inc. plan to reduce their workforces by a combined 3,500 to cut costs as the recession hurts demand for technology products.

    Software maker Citrix, based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, said it will cut 500 jobs, or 10 percent of the total. St. Petersburg, Florida-based Jabil, a manufacturer of electronics, will eliminate 3,000 positions.

    Technology businesses including Microsoft Corp. and Texas Instruments Inc. are slashing jobs as they adapt to slowing demand for software and computers. Through yesterday, U.S. companies had announced more than 519,895 job cuts since Nov. 1, according to Bloomberg data.

    Citrix, which makes networking programs, forecast a 5 percent drop in revenue in the first quarter from a year earlier. Operating margin will be little changed in the period, the company said. For all of 2009, sales will be little changed, with the operating margin increasing as much as 1 percent.

    The job cuts will save about $50 million in employee expenses yearly before taxes, Citrix said. Most of the pretax expenses of as much as $23 million will come in the first quarter, the company said.

    Jabil, which makes mobile phones for Nokia Oyj, said its cuts will save about $55 million annually. The company, which has 85,000 employees, said it will have $65 million in restructuring costs over the next two years.

    Citrix dropped $1.69, or 7 percent, to $22.50 in extended trading after closing at $24.19 on the Nasdaq Stock Market. The shares tumbled 38 percent last year. Jabil was unchanged in late trading and rose 4 percent to $6.36 today on the New York Stock Exchange.

    Source : Bloomberg
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    SAP plans job cuts, despite solid earnings

    Even coming off a healthy quarter, business software titan SAP says it needs to cut costs for the coming year--and as elsewhere in the tech sector, that means job cuts.

    SAP said Wednesday that for the fourth quarter, it had net income of 850 million euros ($1.1 billion) on revenue of 3.5 billion euros. Those figures represent a gain of 13 percent in net income and 8 percent in revenue year over year.

    Revenue in software and software-related services at the Walldorf, Germany-based company was 2.7 billion euros, up 8 percent year over year.

    For the full year, SAP's net income was 1.89 billion euros, down 2 percent from 2007, while revenue was 11.57 billion euros, up 13 percent.

    But a troubling and unpredictable economic climate means that SAP, like many other companies inside and outside of high tech, will continue tightening its belt. SAP said Wednesday that it plans to trim its worldwide workforce by about 3,000 positions by the end of 2009--from 51,500 down to 48,500 jobs.

    SAP said that the job cuts, at least some of which it expects to come through attrition, will lead to annual savings of 300 million euros to 350 million euros starting in 2010.

    Here's how SAP sees the business environment for the coming year:

    The Company expects the 2009 operating environment to remain challenging. In addition, 2009 will no longer include the positive effects from the acquisition of Business Objects, and the 2009 first-half results will be a difficult comparison to the strong results reported in the first half of 2008, which was prior to the economic crisis that disrupted the global markets in the third quarter of 2008.

    For those reasons, SAP did not provide a specific outlook for software and software-related service revenue for full-year 2009.

    Source : Cnet
    [tags : ]

    Jan 27, 2009

    Recession getting worse

    Survey at private-sector companies forecasts greater job losses and worsening economic conditions in the months to come.

    Economists expect an already deep recession to get even worse in 2009, according to a survey released Monday.

    Companies will lay off more workers and hoard more cash during the next 12 months, according to the National Association for Business Economics survey, a quarterly take from a panel of economists at private-sector companies in various industries. A vast majority of the 105 economists polled believe the country's gross domestic product will continue to sink in 2009.

    If business conditions indeed worsen during the year, they will be sinking from already historic lows. The survey's measures of consumer demand, profit margins and capital expenditures all hit their lowest-ever levels in January's edition of the 27-year old survey.

    "NABE's January 2009 Industry Survey depicts the worst business conditions since the survey began in 1982, confirming that the U.S. recession deepened in the fourth quarter of 2008," said Sara Johnson, a NABE economist.

    Nearly half - 47% - of surveyed economists said overall industry demand was falling, compared with 35% who said so in the October survey. Just 10% of respondents said profit margins were rising, compared with 52% who believe they are falling. And 38% of economists said capital expenses are falling, up from just 15% in October.

    Credit conditions hurt businesses, according to the economists, as customers had less leverage to buy discretionary products. 78% of respondents said tightening credit conditions affected customers, and 52% said the credit crunch directly hurt businesses in their industries.

    Pessimistic outlook on weak environment

    With business conditions souring, the outlook for jobs has grown increasingly negative. 39% of economists believe their industries will lay off employees in the next six months, compared with 32% in October.

    The forecast was particularly poor for the goods-producing sector, in which 69% of economists saw layoffs in the future, and no one believed the industry would be adding jobs. Service-sector economists were the most optimistic, with only 9% seeing layoffs and 29% saying their industry would be hiring in the next six months.

    Companies will likely curtail spending in the coming months as well, according to the survey. 44% of the economists believed capital spending in their industries would fall off in the coming year, compared with just 16% who believed their businesses would increase spending.

    Rising unemployment, tightening credit conditions and a difficult lending environment led economists to give a more pessimistic outlook on growth for 2009.

    Just 22% believed the U.S. economy would expand this year, down from 62% who thought so in October. Although 26% now believe the economy will shrink less than 1% this year, 52% now think the economy will shrink by more than 1%, which no one predicted in October.

    Source : CNN
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    Britons watching more TV than ever due to recession

    Britons are watching more television than ever due to the increasing choice offered by digital channels and the recession, which has encouraged people to stay in more often.

    The average person watched nearly four hours of television a day in 2008 or 26 hours and 18 minutes per week - 48 minutes longer per week than in 2007, according to the Broadcasters' Audience Research Board (BARB).

    This matches the previous highest broadcast viewing figure on record, reached in 2003.

    The growth – seen across all age groups – has been driven by commercial television channels, which now account for 63 per cent of all broadcast television viewing, according to analysis of the data by Thinkbox, the television marketing body for the main UK commercial broadcasters.

    Family game shows like Strictly Come Dancing and X Factor are also responsible for increasing numbers of people staying in.

    "Big entertainment shows like X Factor are getting bigger and bringing people together in the living room" according to research by Thinkbox.

    Bad weather, including a very wet summer last year, has encouraged people to stay indoors and the economic downturn has led to people taking advantage of the free entertainment, according to the report.

    Thinkbox also says people are watching more television because there is greater take-up of digital TV services and Sky+.

    However, the figures do not include on-demand TV viewing and the explosion in viewing via web services, such as BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, 4OD, Demand Five and Sky Player, and IPTV platforms, such as Virgin Media and BT Vision.

    Tess Alps, Thinkbox's Chief Executive: "TV remains people's favourite form of entertainment, whatever technology delivers it. These figures show that people rely on channels and schedules to help them find the TV they want to watch. At a time when we are lucky to have more excellent TV to choose from than ever, trusted channels remain crucial to guide people through the choice. Watching live is driven by human need not by technological limitation."

    Source : Telegraph
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    US houses sink at fastest rate on record

    America's economy is spiralling rapidly into deep recession, according to a respected survey of residential property values

    The world's biggest economy is spiralling rapidly into deep recession after house prices across America sank at their fastest rate on record, according to a survey widely perceived as the most authoritative measure of US residential property values.

    The S&P Case-Shiller house price index indicated that the average value of a residential property in the United States has fallen by a quarter since the peak of the housing market in 2006, with every homeowner losing about $370 (£260) a week from the value of their home.

    Property prices throughout the US fell by 18.2 per cent in November, compared with the same month the year before - indeed, home prices fell by 2 per cent in November alone. Wall Street had been expecting the numbers to be slightly worse, forecasting an 18.4 per cent drop.

    At the same time, the US Conference Board's consumer confidence index fell well below expectations in January, after Americans failed to take heart from falling petrol prices and a more stable US equity market. The index measures the level of optimism that Americans express about their own finances. It is scrutinised by Wall Street because it is used to try to determine future consumption levels, a key driver for the US economy, with consumption accounting for about two thirds of America's economic growth.

    Ian Shepherdson, chief US economist at High Frequency Economics, estimates that the consumer confidence index reading spells a “catastrophic” rate of decline in overall consumption, down 3 per cent over this year compared with last. Consumer spending, which includes expenditure on services and on items such as food and clothing, accounts for about two thirds of US economic growth.

    The grim housing data showed that the rate of decline of property values is accelerating. November's 2 per cent fall in prices compared with 1 per cent monthly declines during the summer.

    While Wall Street is banking on low interest rates and sliding home prices to entice new buyers into the property market, the losses raise questions about the valuation of the mortgage-backed securities on their balance sheets, which may need to be entirely written off in the short term. Such doubts further undermine confidence in global equity markets.

    David Blitzer, chairman of the S&P Index Committee, which compiles the house price index by monitoring 20 cities across the US every month, said: “Since August 2006, the 20-city composite has declined every month - a total of 28 consecutive months.” In November, the average house price across America fell to similar levels as the first quarter of 2004. Phoenix, Arizona, and Las Vegas, Nevada were hit worst. The slump in property values also threatens to affect employment, with 7.2 per cent of the American workforce out of a job. The construction industry and retail are closely allied with the housing market.

    Source : TimesOnline
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    Malaysians optimistic on Job Security than other Asian Economies

    Malaysian employees are more optimistic of job security compared with workers in other Asian economies, according to a study by Towers Perrin-ISR.

    Towers Perrin-ISR consultant Dr Jens Ballendowitsch said that despite a significant drop of five percentage points in Malaysians’ confidence level on employment security last year versus 2007, Malaysians were still very optimistic compared with employees in Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong, China, Japan and South Korea.

    Dr Jens Ballendowitsch

    The Towers Perrin-ISR database, which contains opinions of more than 300,000 employees, shows 71% of the Malaysian workforce is optimistic on employment security.

    “This reflects the highest level of confidence in the region,” he said. “Only 41% of the workforce in Japan and 44% in South Korea have positive opinions in this respect.”

    In Singapore, the figure is 66%, Hong Kong 60% and China 64%.

    He said the high level of Malaysian employees’ optimism might be a positive indicator for local businesses.

    The Towers Perrin-ISR research also revealed that the workforce’s opinion on job security is highly correlated to employees’ commitment to a company.

    “Employees who perceive having a secure job also show a high level of commitment and engagement,” Ballendowitsch said. Employee engagement, as defined by Towers Perrin-ISR, is a combination of rational, emotional and motivational factors that unleash discretionary employee effort.

    Towers Perrin-ISR’s studies have shown that engagement is an important predictor of companies’ financial success.

    Ballendowitsch said that taking these findings into account, Malaysian business leaders could be optimistic of the year ahead, since the foundation for an engaged workforce, and thus sustainable business outcomes, was already laid.

    He said although the current financial crisis began in the United States, it had had a direct impact on the Asian workforce.

    “While in countries such as Singapore, Japan and South Korea an increasing number of business bankruptcies have already occurred, accompanied by relatively large retrenchment efforts, the Malaysian economic situation is, by and large, still in a state of normality,” he said.

    Ballendowitsch said that to maintain the high level of engagement among the Malaysian workforce, business leaders should keep on communicating that jobs were secure.

    “If it is known that retrenchment of personnel is not on the list of an organisation’s action plan for 2009, the good news should be spread, since it helps to sustain the level of commitment among staff and, in turn, maintain the company’s ability to stay successful in 2009,” he said.

    Source : TheStar
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    Best Buy to lay off workers to slash expenses further

    Best Buy said today it will resort to involuntary layoffs at its Richfield corporate headquarters, even though 500 workers agreed to voluntary layoffs earlier this month.

    Best Buy Co. Inc., said Tuesday it will resort to layoffs at corporate headquarters, even though 500 workers earlier this month agreed to leave voluntarily.

    The Richfield-based retailer told corporate workers in an e-mail and in meetings Tuesday that an unknown number of employees will be laid off Feb. 19 as the company continues to cut costs amidst a massive slowdown in sales.

    The average, nonmanagerial employee who is forced out will receive six months' pay plus health, dental and life insurance for a year, said spokeswoman Susan Busch. The voluntary package would have offered the same employee 7.5 months of wages.

    No store employees will be affected, Busch said.

    Best Buy, the nation's largest consumer electronics retailer, has cut its $1.2 billion budget for capital expansion in half, mainly by opening fewer stores in the United States, Canada and China.

    The voluntary buyouts were already trimming the 4,000-strong corporate workforce by 12.5 percent. Hourly workers as well as high-ranking vice-presidents signed up for the buyout. CEO Brad Anderson said last week that he will join the ranks of the departing workers, and in June will hand control to President Brian Dunn.

    Busch said it's likely new jobs will be created as part of the "overall process of realigning resources," and that some laid-off employees might be eligible for different jobs at headquarters.

    The company didn't provide workers with any information about how many jobs might be eliminated and which departments might be affected. Busch described the announcement as part of a "transparent approach" to providing "information as soon as we are able to give it out to employees, knowing we don't have all of the answers to share."

    Source : StarTribune
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    Home Depot to lay off 7,000 jobs

    The Home Depot, the world's largest home improvement retailer, on Monday announced its plans to lay off about 7,000 employees, or about 2 percent of its workforce.

    The retailer said it will also shutter 34 Expo centers, five YardBirds stores, two Design Center stores and its bath remodeling business known as HD Bath over the next two months.

    The Home Depot's business has not performed well financially as the demand for big-ticket design and decor projects has declined amid the downturn in the economy, the announcement said.

    The Atlanta-based company also announced that it is initiating a salary freeze for all of its executives.

    Source : XinHua
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    Texas Instruments to layoff 3,400 employees

    Slackened demand in the chip industry and intense competition has hit Texas Instruments Inc., the Dallas-based chip giant! The company, likely to report a fall in its fourth-quarter sales to the tune of 33 percent, has announced that it plans to layoff 3,400 employees.

    The planned number of job-cuts comprises 12 percent of the chip maker's total work force, which will be slashed by September end. While 1,600 employees will leave by the way of voluntary retirements and departures, the remaining will be specific job-cuts.

    With the fourth quarter revenue of the company plunging to $2.49 billion from the year-earlier $3.56 billion, the announced layoffs, along with the 650 job-cuts announced in October, will together yield almost $700 million yearly savings for the company..

    Ron Slaymaker, vice president of investor relations, said in an interview that the latest round of job cuts will extend over TI's global operations, and, by and large, will start becoming effectual from March end.

    The total number of TI employees stood at almost 29,500 at the end of last year, of which 11,700 employees were in Texas. The company had 3,100 workers in Europe, and 2,300 in Japan.

    Commenting on the company's move during a conference with the analysts, Slaymaker said: "It is a broad economic slowdown in which consumer consumption has dramatically weakened and likely will weaken further. We are planning for a weaker economic environment that could be around for a while."

    Source : TopNews
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    Volvo laying off 650 at US truck plant

    Swedish vehicle manufacturer Volvo has announced permanent layoffs of 650 workers at its truck assembly plant in this Virginia town.

    Volvo Trucks North America said Tuesday that it will lay off 40 percent of the plant's remaining work force by the end of April. The layoffs will begin in March.

    Volvo spokesman Jim McNamara says the layoffs are prompted by declining demand.

    The company laid off about 1,000 workers at the plant last May, and had planned weeklong shutdowns during the first three months of this year in an effort to avoid additional job cuts.

    Source : IHT
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    Ulster Bank to lay off 750 staff

    More that 700 jobs are to go at the Ulster Bank in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, the bank has said.

    The lay-offs will be rolled out on a voluntary basis, according to the bank. It plans to cut 550 jobs in the Republic, and 200 in Northern Ireland.

    Ulster Bank said the First Active brand of mortgage and investment business will close as part of the scheme.

    Steve Tweed of the bank officials' union said it would have "intensive negotiations" with the bank.

    "We haven't seen the detail behind their decision so it would be our objective to have that number reduced," he said.

    "But we also need to sit down the bank and negotiate a voluntary severance package which is attractive, especially in the current economic climate."

    The Ulster Bank Group, part of Royal Bank of Scotland, said that it had to "adapt to prevailing market conditions, while strengthening the organisation and its all island reach".

    'Changed marketplace'

    Ulster Bank chief executive Cormac McCarthy said he did not foresee any branch closures and was confident the bank could find enough workers willing to take redundancy.

    "We have 3,000-plus people working in Northern Ireland and it is a voluntary scheme - we have to work with our unions and staff representatives in the coming days and weeks to figure out what the best way forward is," he said.

    "We are getting our business fit for what we see is a very changed marketplace, and in many ways we are getting ahead of things - we are satisfied that when we get through this we will have a fit and strong business on the island of Ireland as a whole."

    The plan includes making the business a single brand in the Republic, with the merger of its specialist mortgage and investment arm, First Active, into the main Ulster Bank.

    The Ulster Bank, which has more than 1.8m customers, has 145 branches in the Republic and 92 in Northern Ireland.

    The bank, founded in Belfast in 1836, said its plans in Northern Ireland included measures to support customers, experiencing financial difficulties.

    The plan includes funding for the provision of debt advice, staff secondment for debt agency work and a six month postponement on house repossession after a customer first goes into arrears.

    Source : BBC
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    Caterpillar moves to lay off 22,000 workers

    Catepillar Inc hit hard by the global economy's sudden meltdown, said Monday it is chopping nearly 20,000 workers from its payroll as it ratchets down production to match fast-weakening demand.

    For most of 2008, booming demand from overseas markets helped shield the Peoria-based heavy-equipment giant from the worst effects of the U.S. recession, and most of the company's factories continued to operate at full capacity.

    But late last year, economies around the world toppled into recession, and the result was a drop in demand for the company's earthmovers, mining trucks and other equipment.

    Caterpillar, which employs more than 28,000 workers in Illinois and has 112,000 employees worldwide, declined to provide specifics about where the job cuts will take place.

    Also Monday, Caterpillar jarred Wall Street by reporting fourth-quarter earnings that fell well short of forecasts.

    "It is now clear that we need to sharply lower our production and costs," Chairman and Chief Executive Jim Owens said.

    Caterpillar is cutting back capital spending, suspending its share-repurchase activities and taking other actions designed to preserve capital.

    But the centerpiece of the company's response to sagging sales is its elimination of 20,000 jobs from the factories, offices and other facilities it operates around the globe.

    Besides the layoffs, the company said it intends to reduce overtime and have certain plants run on a reduced workweek, which will trim earnings for remaining workers.

    Caterpillar has implemented a portion of the job cuts, and officials predicted the workforce reduction will be completed by the end of the first quarter.

    The plan calls for Caterpillar to eliminate the jobs of nearly 8,000 temporary and contract workers, who are not considered employees.

    About 11,500 full-time Caterpillar workers are losing their jobs. That includes 4,000 production employees and about 2,500 support and management staffers who have accepted voluntary separation. It also expects to eliminate up to 5,000 support and management jobs.

    After three strong quarters in 2008, Owens said, Caterpillar was "whipsawed" in the fourth quarter by what he told analysts in a conference call were "seismic moves in the global economy."

    As a result, he said, Caterpillar "pretty much hit a wall in December."

    Despite a hefty one-time income-tax benefit, the slowdown caused Caterpillar's earnings to drop 32 percent, to $661 million, or $1.08 a share, from the year-ago quarter's $975 million, or $1.50 a share.

    Caterpillar said it expects 2009 per-share earnings to be about $2.50—well below the $4.32 a share that analysts had been projecting. The forecast doesn't include the up to $500 million in costs Caterpillar expects to record in connection with the cuts.

    "It was an ugly quarter, no matter how you slice it. The good news is that 2008 is over, and the bad news is that 2009 will be worse," said analyst Matt Collins of Edward Jones.

    Larry De Maria, an analyst with Sterne Agee & Leach Inc. said: "The ray of hope is that Caterpillar comes out of this a better company in 2010 when global growth may resume."

    Caterpillar shares dropped $2.99, or 8.4 percent, to $32.67.

    Source : ChicagoTribune
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    CEOs grim about 2009

    COMPANY heads think business won't pick up for three years and have shifted their focus from growth to survival, according to a CEO survey that indicated how badly the global financial crisis has eroded confidence among industry leaders worldwide.

    Less than a quarter of CEOs questioned in an annual PricewaterhouseCoopers survey for the World Economic Forum had hope for revenue growth over the next 12 months - a plunge from 50 percent a year ago, a time when fears of a downturn were already undercutting expectations.

    The survey of 1,124 CEOs in 50 countries, conducted mostly by telephone, was released on Wednesday ahead of the forum's annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, where business and government leaders were gathering to take stock of a catastrophic year for world finances and talk about a 'post-crisis world'.

    'CEOs are most concerned about the immediate survival of their companies,' said Samuel DiPiazza, global CEO of New York-based consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.

    Even once rapidly growing emerging economies are struggling to get credit and facing collapsing demand, the survey found.

    The CEOs are not just worried about 2009. Just 34 per cent expressed confidence that they would see any revenue growth over the next three years, the survey said.

    Chief executives are most worried about the impact of the recession on major economies, the survey found. They are also unsettled by volatile capital markets - and afraid of over-regulation.

    The question of how much governments should be doing to stabilise markets is central to this year's World Economic Forum. The survey found a majority of CEOs favouring more collaboration between businesses and government.

    Despite the somber outlook, most said they planned to keep staffing levels or continue hiring, with 26 per cent saying they planned to reduce their work forces in the coming year.

    The survey found pessimism across 'all geographic regions, business sectors and levels of economic development.' Confidence was somewhat lower in North America and Western Europe than in Asia.

    Indian CEOs were the exceptions, with 70 per cent predicting growth in the next 12 months. Russia and China showed dramatic drops in confidence from a year ago, when both saw 73 per cent of CEOs forecasting growth in the coming year. This time, just 30 per cent of Russian CEOs and 29 per cent of Chinese chief executives expect such growth.

    As the survey was being conducted, over the last quarter of 2008, questioners found confidence worsening amid snowballing bad news.

    'The speed and intensity of the recession has rocked the psyches of CEOs and created a global crisis of confidence,' DiPiazza said.

    Almost 70 per cent expect to suffer from the credit crisis, including higher financing costs and delays to planned investment.

    They predict more joint ventures and fewer mergers and acquisitions, which the surveyors attributed to lower cost and risks of joint ventures. Merger and acquisition activity was down last year, with only 20 percent saying they had completed one last year - below the 31 per cent that CEOs had predicted a year ago.

    Source : StraitTimes
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